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Johnny Depp, Amber Heard Verdict: Actors’ Futures Uncertain E! News UK

FAIRFAX, Va. –

A jury’s finding that Johnny Depp and his ex-wife, Amber Heard, were defamed in a long-running public dispute capped a grim six-week trial that also raised questions about whether the two actors can overcome tarnished reputations.

The verdict in Virginia on Wednesday found that Depp had been defamed by three statements in an op-ed written by Heard in which she said she had been the victim of abuse. The jury awarded him more than 10 million US dollars. But jurors also found Heard had been defamed by a lawyer for Depp who accused her of creating a detailed hoax surrounding the abuse allegations. She received $2 million.

Depp had hoped the libel suit would help restore his reputation. However, legal and entertainment experts say the reputations of the two actors have been tainted by ugly details about their brief marriage that came out during the televised trial watched by millions.

“Both will work again, but I think it will be a while before a major studio considers them ‘safe’ enough to bet on,” said former entertainment lawyer Matthew Belloni, who writes about the Hollywood business for the Puck newsletter. “The personal baggage that came to light in this trial was just too gross for any studio to care about. »

The case captivated viewers who watched TV coverage from hammer to hammer, including avid followers on social media who dissected the actors’ mannerisms, clothing choices and drinking and drinking. drugs.

Both artists emerge with unclear career prospects. Three-time Best Actor Oscar nominee Depp was a bankable star until recent years, notably starring as Captain Jack Sparrow in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films. However, he lost that role and was replaced in a “Fantastic Beasts” spin-off.

Heard’s acting career has been more modest, and her only two upcoming roles are in a small movie and the upcoming sequel “Aquaman” due out next year.

Eric Rose, a crisis management and communications expert in Los Angeles, called the lawsuit “a classic murder-suicide,” in terms of damage to both careers.

“From a reputation management perspective, there can be no winners,” he said. “They got bloodied. It’s getting harder now for studios to hire either actor because you’re potentially alienating a lot of your audience who may not like the fact that you’ve tapped Johnny or Amber for a project. specific because the feelings are so strong now.

Heard, who appeared in court on Wednesday and was stoic as the verdict was read, said she was heartbroken by what she described as a setback for women in general.

“I am even more disappointed with what this verdict means for other women. It’s a setback. It takes the clock back to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly humiliated. It pushes back the idea that violence against women should be taken seriously,” she said in a statement posted on her Twitter account.

Depp, who was not in court on Wednesday, said: ‘The jury gave my life back. I’m really humble.

“I hope that my quest for the truth to be told has helped others, men or women, who have found themselves in my situation, and that those who support them will never give up,” he said in a statement posted on Instagram.

Depp sued Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court over a December 2018 op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post describing herself as “a public figure representing domestic violence.” The essay never mentioned his name.

The jury found in favor of Depp on all three of his claims regarding specific statements in the article.

In evaluating Heard’s counterclaims, jurors considered three statements from a lawyer for Depp who called his claims a hoax. They discovered she had been defamed by one of them, in which the lawyer claimed that she and her friends “spilled some wine and roughed up the place, got their stories straight”, and called the police.

While the case was ostensibly about defamation, most of the testimony focused on whether Heard had been physically and sexually abused, as she claimed. Heard listed more than a dozen alleged assaults, including a fight in Australia – where Depp was filming a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ sequel – in which Depp lost the tip of her middle finger and Heard said she had been sexually assaulted with a bottle of alcohol.

Depp said he never hit Heard and she was the abuser, although Heard’s lawyers uncovered years-old text messages Depp sent apologizing to Heard for his behavior as well as profane texts he sent to a friend in which Depp said he wanted to kill Heard and defile his corpse.

New York family law attorney Brett Ward said Depp made himself a more credible witness by admitting to his drug and alcohol use and that he can be a difficult person. But he said Depp also runs the risk of making those moments more memorable to audiences than his film work.

“He says he did this for his children. After watching the whole trial, I don’t think he did his kids a favor by airing out all that dirty laundry,” Ward said in an interview.

“But if it was worth it for Johnny Depp, we will know in five years whether he re-establishes himself as a leading Hollywood actor. What if he doesn’t? I think he made a terrible mistake because most people aren’t going to remember his rather distinguished career in Hollywood, they’re going to remember that trial.

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Associated Press writers Lindsey Bahr and John Carruci contributed to this report.

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